by Rev. Ralph Erskine (1685 – 1752)
Presbyterian pastor in the Church of Scotland
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
Romans 8:13 (KJV)
There is a woeful tenderness that we have of ourselves that keeps us from mortifying our corruption. Have you never discovered or seen the evil and bitterness of sin, but lived always in peace? Why, then it seems the strong man keeps the house [Matthew 12:29]: if the passing of the gravel stone [i.e. the small hard mass that blocks the urinary tract causing severe pain] never pained you, ye are not yet quit of it. If your heart was never pained with sin, it says your heart was never yet circumcised. The strength of sin remains where there has been no Gospel mortification. Yea, what great reformations have taken place among some, so as by their life you would think they were real converts because of their exactness and tenderness. Yet they are enemies of grace and strangers to the Gospel, and consequently to true mortification, which cannot be by the Law, it being the strength of sin.
Question: How shall I know, whether it be by the Gospel that I mortify sin or by the Law?